Paraná River Honey

By Sam Kirschenbaum

I met Mariano on the other side of a bottle of Fernet at a gathering during my college semester abroad in Córdoba, Argentina. He quickly ignited some South American hospitality and covered the kitchen table with fishing tackle. “We’re going to fish the famous Golden dorado” he told me in Spanish. He lifted a small lure off the table and handed it to me, “Che loco, con este pescas, este es un miellll” he said to me, meaning, “hey crazy, fish with this, this lure is honeyyyy.”

Two years and several dorado later, I found myself back in Argentina teaching English and planning another dorado trip. In late January we ventured to Alto Paraná in northern Corrientes. A quiet first morning of fishing had us questioning the conditions and our approach by lunchtime. After a hardy lunch and necessary siesta we returned to the river in a high speed boat custom designed for dorado fishing. We filled the afternoon by pulling Pacu over the rails but our first dorado required a bit extra effort. Just before dark, Mariano ordered a change to a blue and green lure covered with bite scars that had been masked by sharpie marker, the same lure he had handed to me 2 years prior in his kitchen. With a newfound hope, I resumed picking apart structure on the North shore of the two-mile wide river. Within 10 minutes, a train attached to the line and erupted into the air. Low light restricted sizing the fish during airtime but its strength and aggression were unmatched by any freshwater species I had ever tangled with. Ten minutes of screaming drag and Spanish cursing later we had a 30-pound dorado on the deck.

Over the next three days we covered miles of shoreline, increasing our dorado numbers each day with a 70+ lb Surubi catfish as a bonus. The main attraction to Alto Paraná is the incredible Pacu fishery that becomes ripe for fly anglers from January through March when the fish feed on fruits falling from overhanging jungle flora. dorado run large in this section of river and are found by dragging flies and lures 1-2 ft on the upstream side of wood structure. Lures cost much more in Argentina so guides don’t think twice to surgically weave their boats into logjams to recover a snag.

For the last leg of our trip we abandoned Pacu to focus on dorado. Overcast skies and high water allowed us to explore feeding frenzies in back channels that are normally inaccessible. Drifting around bends in channels between mats of aquatic vegetation at high speeds reminded me of the Everglades, but still the scenery was unmatched to anything in the US. More importantly these were some of the most consistent days of fishing I had ever experienced with flies, gear, and topwater making it happen all day long. Explosive hits, gravity defying jumps, and well stocked coolers were the recipe for all-time game fishing. Amazing ornithology too, if you’re into that.

Mariano, a connected and competitive dorado fisherman hopes to someday catch a largemouth bass. Maybe our attraction to fishing in an exotic subtropical jungle functions similar to the Argentinean angler’s dream to fish abroad.

Anglers from North America perceive targeting this species as a rare vacation opportunity, but we forget that dorado dominate inshore sportfishing for South American residents. Similar to our rustic trout lodges, public bass tournaments, and marinas stocked with flats boats, the same sportfishing infrastructure exists for domestic dorado fishing tourism.

Honey Sportfishing makes catching dorado a tangible international fishing experience. We currently offer trips to several signature destinations on the Parana River and its tributaries in Corrientes, Argentina. We’ll work with you closely to simplify travel logistics, bridge any language barrier, and supply you with the necessary tackle. Contact to get tight. You’ll see for yourself that the Parana flows gold with honey.

Company Description:

Honey Sportfishing provides avid fishermen with exceptional guides and services at an affordable price to fish the famous golden dorado in Northern Argentina.

Instagram: @honeysportfishing